Rep. Kevin Lundberg of Berthoud got a promotion today as a Larimer County GOP vacancy committee appointed him to replace former Sen. Steve Johnson, R-Fort Collins.
The vote was 86-42, with Lundberg outpolling Army veteran and businessman Mike Lynch.
The veteran legislator from rural Larimer County was chosen despite opposition from Johnson, Rep. Don Marostica, R-Loveland, and many local elected officials, who maintain that the Republican party must move toward the center to regain the political edge in the state.
But the GOP activists at the vacancy committee meeting rejected that view.
Quoted in a story by the Fort Collins Coloradoan, Sue Rehg said the GOP needs to stay on the right.
"Right on schedule, several groups of GOP centrists started wagging their fingers at values voters, blaming them for every lost opportunity on Nov. 4," Rehg said. "The answer, they claim, is not to become a more conservative, Reagan-esque party, but to acquiesce on the GOP's core issues in favor of energy and environment. Republicans are in the wilderness not because they spent the last six years embracing (limited) government and moral values, but because in so many areas the two parties have become almost indistinguishable."
So did several state senators, including Greg Brophy, R-Wray.
"His experience, common sense and fiscally conservative approach to problem solving is exactly what these times call for," Brophy said. "He will make a difference.”
Lundberg himself urged the vacancy committee to appoint him because of his conservative views.
"The problems our party has experienced have not been because our principals need to change, but because we haven't lived up to them," he said. "Some say that we should run to the middle to get ahead of the crowd. I disagree."
Lundberg, who is an evangelical Christian, denies that human-caused global climate change is occurring, opposes legal abortion and domestic partnerships and marriage rights for gay couples, is an advocate for tax reduction, and argues for expanded production of oil, oil shale, and other petroleum products. He was a leading opponent of Referendum C, which gave the state a five-year break from the revenue ratchet-down effect of the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, in 2005.
Lundberg, who has been a member of the House since January 2003, was in his last term as a representative. He had previously made an unsuccessful run for the Senate in 1998 and served for six years as a member of the board of directors of Colorado Christian University.
His appointment creates a vacancy in House District 49. A GOP selection committee from that district will meet next weekend.
Ray Walter of Windsor and BJ Nikkel of Berthoud have announced their desire to be chosen as Lundberg's replacement.